Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

As Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, you may be wondering whether getting vaccinated is the right choice for you. You might question why you need the vaccine, but considering how sick you can become if you get infected with COVID-19, getting vaccinated is a good idea. Read more to learn the benefits of getting vaccinated and find out if you are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused thousands of hospitalizations and deaths in Canada and worldwide. It has resulted in significant economic and social disruption, and changed daily life as we know it.1 Getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has been shown to reduce severe illness, hospitalization and death from the virus and its variants.2 You’re also much less likely to catch and spread the virus to others within your community should you become infected.3

Furthermore, your risk of exposure to the virus can change based on your setting and activity. For this reason, some provinces and territories have implemented local public health precautions that vary based on your vaccination status.2 Proof of vaccination may be required for certain activities such as dining indoors at restaurants and attending sporting events.4 You may also be asked to provide COVID-19 vaccination documents when travelling abroad, and these precautions may affect your self-quarantine requirements upon return.2,5 It’s important to consider that many employers are now requiring that their staff be fully vaccinated as part of their conditions of employment.

Who should be getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Currently, there are 4 COVID-19 vaccines that are approved for use in Canada:6,7
  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty®) COVID-19 vaccine: approved for people 5 years of age and older
  • Moderna (Spikevax®) COVID-19 vaccine: approved for people 12 years of age and older
  • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria®) COVID-19 vaccine: approved for people 18 years of age and older
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine: approved for people 18 years of age and older

Health Canada is recommending vaccination for everyone in the approved age groups that do not have contraindications to the vaccine.8 These recommended age groups may change based on new evidence and research.

For people who have previously had COVID-19, vaccination is still recommended since we don’t know how long natural immunity lasts, particularly with new variants, and you could get infected again and become sick.6

Special populations and the vaccine

It is recommended that individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding get vaccinated against COVID-19, preferably with an mRNA vaccine series (e.g. Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty®) COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna (Spikevax®) COVID-19 vaccine.6 mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are also being recommended for all individuals in their approved age groups and who do not have contraindications to the vaccine.6,7

It is recommended that certain groups, such as those with weakened immune systems, get 3 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to build sufficient immunity.9 Other populations may be encouraged to obtain a booster dose with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine based on risk factors, such as being at a higher risk of severe illness or lowered protection over time.9 Groups who may be eligible for a booster dose include:9

  • immunosuppressed (weakened immune system) due to disease or treatment
  • residents in long-term care facilities
  • older adults living in group settings such as retirement homes
  • adults in or from First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities
  • adults who received 2 doses of the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria®) COVID-19 vaccine or 1 dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine

It’s important to note that the eligibility criteria for a third dose or a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine varies by province. In some provinces, individuals within certain age groups and frontline health care workers may receive a booster dose.10 If you aren’t sure if you can get a COVID-19 vaccine or whether you are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, talk to your local pharmacist at one of our Shoppers Drug Mart locations.

Contraindications to the COVID-19 vaccine

Contraindications to the vaccines are special reasons or situations why you should not get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have developed a severe, immediate allergic reaction (e.g., difficulty breathing, hives, dizziness) to a COVID-19 vaccine component, such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) found in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, you should discuss with your allergist first before receiving that vaccine.6 If you experienced a severe, immediate allergic reaction after the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should consult with your allergist before receiving additional doses of that vaccine.

In certain situations, individuals have developed rare side effect reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines.6 Currently, those who have experienced blood clots after being vaccinated with a viral vector COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., the AstraZeneca [Vaxzevria®] COVID-19 vaccine or the Janssen [Johnson & Johnson] COVID-19 vaccine) should not receive a second dose of a viral vector vaccine.6 People who have experienced inflammation of heart muscles (myocarditis) or the tissue surrounding the heart (pericarditis) should not receive additional doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.6

Once you have decided to get a COVID-19 vaccine, you can click here for more information about what to expect and how to prepare for your vaccine appointment.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, click here.


  1. Government of Canada. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Epidemiology update. Last updated October 7, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021.
  2. Government of Canada. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Effectiveness and benefits of vaccination. Last updated September 22, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021.
  3. Government of Canada. COVID-19: Life after vaccination. Last updated September 10, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021.
  4. Government of Canada. COVID-19: Proof of vaccination. Last updated October 6, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021.
  5. Government of Canada. COVID-19 vaccinated travellers entering Canada. Last updated October 6, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021.
  6. Government of Canada. Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines. Last updated October 22, 2021. Accessed November 2, 2021.
  7. Government of Canada. Recommendation on the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (10 mcg) in children 5-11 years of age. Last updated November 19, 2021. Accessed December 7, 2021.
  8. Government of Canada. Vaccines for COVID-19: How to get vaccinated. Last updated October 1, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021.
  9. Government of Canada. An Advisory Committee Statement (ACS) National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Interim guidance on booster COVID-19 vaccine doses in Canada. Last updated October 29, 2021. Accessed November 2, 2021.
  10. Government of Ontario. COVID-19 Vaccine Third Dose Recommendations. Last updated November 3, 2021. Accessed November 4, 2021.